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My first field sketch

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Old Sunday 18th April 2004, 20:47   #1
Taco
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Smile My first field sketch

This year I am going to enter the American Birding Associations young birder of the year contest. One of the things that needs to be entered for the overall YBY is a field notebook. I have drawn a little from field guides, but not tried it outside with the real bird. Heres my first attempt, plaese give me some tips! Feel free to say stuff like "wow thats bad, take a drawing class," I am just starting out so I would like any tips that might help. I was also wondering if about if it is "moraly" correct to touch-up the picture after I get back from birding. Thanks a bunch!

I thought that I would try a close bird for starters, so I sketched this American Wigeon, which was in the floodings at Maple River SGA in lower Michigan.

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Old Sunday 18th April 2004, 20:52   #2
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Hi Taco,
That's certainly not bad for a first effort from life!One can certainly identify the bird from the sketch,which is presumably something that they'll be looking for,as it's not an ART competition.Some of mine are worse than this(others are better,I'm very inconsistent!):must post some here some day(good for a laugh anyway!)
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Old Sunday 18th April 2004, 21:02   #3
Gill Osborne
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As Harry says, there's nothing wrong with the sketch! You can certainly id it as a Wigeon! You should see some of my outdoor stuff!!! Indoors I'm fine but when it comes to quickly sketching something that could fly off at any moment...well, my scribbles are pathetic! Need a lot more practice I think!

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Old Sunday 18th April 2004, 23:02   #4
Charles Harper
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Fine wigeon, Taco. Now can you do that in ten seconds in a squall?
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Old Sunday 18th April 2004, 23:21   #5
Michael Frankis
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Hi Taco,

Nice start!

If I can offer a bit of help to improve it, the head is a bit too large compared to the body, and the neck too long / stout - a wigeon could stretch its neck that high up, bit if it did, the neck would be slimmer.

Doubt that I could do it any better (or even as good) myself though!


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I was also wondering if about if it is "moraly" correct to touch-up the picture after I get back from birding
No problem - most bird artists do this most of the time, field sketches worked up in a studio to make the final pic. Field Guide illustrations aren't painted out in the field!!

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Old Monday 19th April 2004, 01:31   #6
Taco
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Thanks a lot! I can see what you mean by the head and neck size...ill make sure to think on that next time. This particular bird was nice, so it stayed in my scope range very well...but I dont even think I would attempt to sketch some little finch or something that just flitted in and flitted out in front of me.

It is nice to know that field sketches don't have to look like Peterson or sibley
Thanks,
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Old Monday 19th April 2004, 05:39   #7
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Better than anything I have done in the field or at the desk, Taco - well done. I usually add arrows indicating colours and other notes on behaviour - is this what the judges might look for in addition to the sketch?
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Old Monday 19th April 2004, 05:53   #8
steve_nova
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I can see that you are a budding natural at this with just a little more practice. That fluid squiggle to the left of the bird indicates water perfectly.
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Old Monday 19th April 2004, 19:29   #9
prairiemerlin
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Hi Taco
I'm entering ABA's YBY contest also. Good start! I'm also starting from "scratch." I never had ever made any field notes/sketches. I've found that it is much more fun drawing birds in the field than copying from a field guide.

Tip: Try to make a really rough sketch in a few seconds and note field marks, etc. and then fill it in later from memory.
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Old Monday 19th April 2004, 20:00   #10
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Hi Taco
Nice field sketch! I't very hard sketching through a scope. My tips would be to keep both eyes open and use an angled scope. Learn to look with one eye and sketch with the other. Don't use too high a magnification as you get less depth of field and have to keep continually focussing. I use a 20x wide angle lens on a Leica Apo scope most of the time unless the bird is very distant. Practice 2 min sketches at home (I use a hide clamp on a windowsill). Home drawing helps to get your hand moving across the paper easily. I find a 2B or 4B pencil moves easiest across the paper for me. Perhaps the key to this field sketching lark is not to worry about what your sketches look like and not to try to make finished masterpieces. When I sketch, I start to draw a bird, then it moves so I start a new sketch and so on. As the bird moves around, I add new bits of infoprmation to a number of sketches as the bird returns to that position. By the end of about 15 min, I have a number of loose drawings with loads of information on. It's fine to add more when you get home!
Lars Jonsson, in his book 'Birds and Light' puts it wonderfully : "The sketchbook is everything. A sketchbook must be free and without any ambitions. There must be many pages in it, so that an unsuccessful sketch can just be left in place for the next attempt on a clean page. Four out of five sketches I do are unsuccessful or broken off when the bird flies away..." He knows a thing or two about sketching!!!
Keep going - you are obviously keen and talented!!
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Old Tuesday 20th April 2004, 02:08   #11
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Thanks for the advice, I like the idea of using one eye in the scope the other out on the paper, I'll work on that. I use a Nikon Fieldscope III, angled, but it has a fixed eypiece at 40x (couldn't afford the 20-45or60), so I cant do the lower magnification but I get a clear picture with the fixed lens. I'll take the advice on the pencils as well, I wasn't sure what might work best, I can try the 2b or 4b. Also seems like sketching from my back window is a good idea as well. When I sketched this, I didn't label anything with arrows, I was just trying out the difference of field sketching from drawing from a field guide, but I think they will be looking for arrows and notes etc in the contest, I'll have to work on that.
Cool to see other birders my age on this page...I only know one other from this state. Good luck with the contest Brown Creeper, what modules are you entering in?
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Old Tuesday 20th April 2004, 11:56   #12
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I'm entering the Field Notebook, Illustration and Photography modules. I decided not to enter the Writing module, because that might be too much.
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